The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan

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The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A fantastic portrait of life in the years following the Second World War, The New Mrs Clifton thrills as much as it moves. Brilliantly drawn characters live and breathe against a dangerous, murky and downtrodden London in this truly superb new novel from Elizabeth Buchan
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: August 2016
Publisher: Michael Joseph
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0718184063

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As the Second World War draws to a close, Intelligence Officer Gus Clifton surprises his sisters at their London home. But an even greater shock is the woman he brings with him, Krista - the German wife whom he married secretly in Berlin. Devastated by her experiences in Berlin, Krista is broken by the horrors she cannot share, and struggles to adjust to London life. But Gus's sisters can only see the enemy that their brother has brought under their roof, and they feel for their friend Nella, Gus's beautiful former fiancee. What hold does Krista have over Gus? What made him change his mind about Nella? As the women struggle to find their place in the world left scarred by the war, the secrets and lies they hide and share may come to tear them all apart...

It's a tough choice, but if I think very, very hard, my absolute favourite topic for a book is Women in the years following WWII. It's such a fascinating time, filled with shifting political and social views, and a whole generation of women struggling to find a place in a world that was trying desperately to pretend that the war, and with it a whole new freedom for women, ever happened. So it's rather thrilling that this is the focus of Elizabeth Buchan's new novel.

It's a read that's packed with twists - character decisions and revelations left me gasping throughout, but all are cleverly seeded. Starting the book with the discovery of a body in the 1970s left me on tenterhooks throughout, and the revelation is reserved until the very end of the book - yet is still a massive surprise. The characters are taken on fascinating journeys to very different places - from the upmarket clubs of West London, through to the devastation of wartime Berlin.

The characters are so, so superbly drawn, vivid and real and raw in their emotions. Despite some having views that feel relatively unpleasant, you soon come to understand the situation that they're in, and feel a certain empathy for them. Krista is possibly the most compelling – broken, scarred and learning to live again in a country filled with people who hate her and her kind. It had a particular poignancy for me, as I live in the area where the book is set, and walk past locations from it every single day. In addition, my great grandparents were Gerrman Jews who moved to London in the late 1930's. The hate and persecution they faced every day was so bad that they ended up moving out of the city to the countryside – so the descriptions of the abuse and general social ignorance shown to Krista throughout were a fascinating insight for me.

A superbly plotted book that manages to thrill whilst developing fantastic characters and shedding light on the ever-changing social situation of the times, The New Mrs Clifton is an incredible read and one I hugely recommend, so many thanks to the publishers for the copy. For future reading, I recommendEveryone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave – another stunning novel that explores the impact of war on those left behind to face its horrific consequences. We also have a review of I Can't Begin to Tell You by Elizabeth Buchan.

Booklists.jpg The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan is in the Top Ten Historical Fiction Books of 2016.

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Buy The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan at


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